New scheme launched by Suffolk villager

A MAN who fought back to mobility after breaking his neck in a freak accident is behind a pioneering new scheme to help disabled people in his home village.

A MAN who fought back to mobility after breaking his neck in a freak accident is behind a pioneering new scheme to help disabled people in his home village.

Michael Flounders is organising the introduction of the scheme at Fressingfield, near Eye, as a "thank you" to people who last year supported him and his brother, Paul, in raising money for the Macmillan cancer care nurses.

The scheme will enable disabled people who live in the Fressingfield area to use a bleep to call for assistance when they arrive outside the village shops and the doctors' surgery.

They could be served while they sit in their car or wheelchair outside.


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The scheme, developed by a company in the north of England, involves the placing of infra red boxes inside these premises which trigger a bleep.

When the disabled person arrives outside in a wheelchair or car he or she can use a key fob to operate the bleep and alert the shopkeeper or doctors' receptionists that someone outside needs help.

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"A disabled person in a car may only be calling to pick up a prescription or buy a stamp or a tin of beans and it is easier for the item to be brought out to avoid them having to go through all the rigmarole of unloading their wheelchair and getting in to it.

"Also, a lot of small village shops cannot be easily adapted for wheelchair access and, at the present time, this deters disabled people from using them," he said.

Mr Flounders, who has regained limited mobility after being told 14 years ago that he was likely to be paralysed for the rest of his life, said the money to finance the scheme had come from local donations.

"I simply talked to people about what I intended to do and the money just arrived. It was wonderful," he said.

He believes the introduction of the new scheme will make the whole village more "disability aware".

Last year Mr Flounders and his brother raised £2,900 for Macmillan Nurses with "tremendous" support from local people. "This is a way of thanking them," he said.

Hugh Stewart, 61, one of the disabled customers who regularly use the post office stores at Fressingfield, said in the past he had sounded his horn to attract attention inside.

"I think this new system will be of great help in rural areas, particularly when shops are in listed buildings, where it often difficult to get planning permission to widen doorways for disabled access," said Mr Stewart, who has had to use a wheelchair since he was involved in an accident at the age of 16.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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